Jurgen Klopp urges Marko Grujic to curb “lazy” defensive approach

27 July 2017

Jurgen Klopp has addressed Marko Grujic‘s knack for producing late challenges, insisting the Liverpool midfielder needed to avoid being “lazy.”


The Serbian spent the majority of last season sidelined with a troubling hamstring injury, but returned to Klopp’s first-team squad for the closing stages.

Grujic was criticised for a strong tackle that left Crystal Palace centre-back James Tomkins injured in May, and then picked up a suspension for two yellow cards at the summer’s European U21 Championship.

Lining up for the Reds this pre-season, the 21-year-old provoked ire from Palace manager Frank de Boer for a lunge at Wilfried Zaha, with the Dutchman saying it was “not appropriate.”

Addressing that challenge and Grujic’s questionable approach off the ball, Klopp agreed that this was a flaw in his game.

“I didn’t see it properly at the time but I heard it could have been a red card,” he told the Liverpool Echo.

“That’s not good. For Marko, it’s something that he has to change.

“He’s a fantastic player, a really skilled boy. Tall, quick, talented footballing wise, all good.

“But in these defensive situations, you always need to be early enough there so you are close enough to make a challenge and not a foul.”

HONG KONG, CHINA - Saturday, July 22, 2017: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the Premier League Asia Trophy final match between Liverpool and Leicester City at the Hong Kong International Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This is something Klopp is not only looking for Grujic to improve, using 18-year-old right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold as another example from training.

While on the Reds’ tour of Hong Kong, Klopp said the youngster “defends like a kid and attacks like man,” and continued to relay this to the Echo.

“I said it to the players after a session when we had a little situation with Divock [Origi] and Trent,” he added.

“It’s about coming too late, switching off the machine, trying to sort a situation in which you were late in mind. I hate that.

“When that happens you need to run, not foul. Make more steps, go, go, go. For me it’s always a bit lazy.”

Grujic has found himself in the margins since making the £5.1 million move from Red Star Belgrade in 2016, but can hope for a strong campaign in 2017/18.

The midfielder has clearly settled in well with the group, and particularly fellow Balkan duo Dejan Lovren and Lazar Markovic, after a year spent adjusting on Merseyside.

But while he has proved his potential as a top-class midfielder, Grujic is clearly still a work in progress.

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